What makes a good friend? A few weekends ago I reflected on this following my wonderful birthday party celebrating with friends at my Gentleman’s Club. ‘A Gentleman’s Club?’ I hear you splutter. Let me explain from the beginning. A few years ago I had the opportunity to have my room re-decorated, and I chose deep reds and tartan curtains to recreate, as much as I could in rural Wiltshire, the ambiance of a London gentleman’s club; the likes of which are seen in productions such as Around the World in 80 Days. Then for my 16th birthday I was given a pool table, which, when I banish my bed into my bathroom (the bed has wheels and the wet room has just enough space), becomes the final piece in the transformation.
Following a grand opening in the summer, JB’s Gentleman’s Club was established, and members, by invitation only, don jackets (I recently purchased an oversize brown ‘jacket of shame’ from a charity shop should anyone forget theirs), eat together and play pool. It’s a bit of fun, but also provides a social context to get together. And through it I’ve been reminded of what friendship looks like. During our December meet up my friend Mik dialled in from his trip to see family in India; it was 1.30am and he was wearing the jacket he had packed specially. For my birthday my friend Alaric wrote and performed a poem with 17 memories for 17 years. It was the best present.
Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day and I’m reminded not just of the 2 examples above, but of many other occasions where people have thought of me and its meant more than its weight in gold: my initials in shells on Rushy Bay Beach; a video message from friends at a conference I couldn’t attend yesterday; an email saying my story has made a difference for a non-verbal pupil. How can you bless someone today?